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It’s a big number. Yet we’re going to lay it with the red-hot ATLANTA BRAVES (-160) at PointsBet Sportsbook.
Saturday in MLB features the second of a three-game 2021 World Series rematch with the Braves (74-47) hosting the division-leading Houston Astros (77-44) at Truist Park.
Atlanta beat Houston 6-2 in the series opener Friday. Braves 3B Austin Riley did a bulk of the damage with a 3-run blast in the bottom of the 3rd.
I’m backing the Braves to win this series Saturday for the following reasons:
- Early-morning market movement
- Atlanta is the hotter team
- Braves SP Spencer Strider is filthy
Atlanta’s moneyline (ML) steamed from a -141 opener up to the current price of Braves (-160), according to Pregame.com. How it got there is what’s interesting. Nearly 70% of the bets placed are on the Astros ML. Roughly 61% of the cash is on the Braves at the time of publishing.
Typically, you want to follow the money when it’s counter to the public because professional bettors move lines. “Squares” do not. The sportsbooks reacting to the cash column indicate the Braves are the “sharp” side.
Also, the Braves are turning it on as their NL East division race heats up. Whereas the Astros are more in cruise control with a 10.5-game lead in the AL West. Atlanta is 9-1 in the last 10 games and 14-6 in the last 20. Houston is 6-4 in the last 10 games and 11-9 in the last 20.
Furthermore, Atlanta’s lineup outranks Houston’s in wRC+, wOBA, hard-hit rate and barrel rate over the past two weeks, per FanGraphs. The Braves relievers have a better ERA, WHIP and home run per nine rate over that span as well.
Strider has quietly been one of the best starting pitchers in MLB. The 23-year-old rookie grades out in the 94th percentile or better in K%, expected batting average, expected ERA (xERA) over wOBA, whiff rate and fastball velocity, according to Statcast.
On top of that, Strider has the best FIP and K/9 in MLB and 2nd-best xERA, per FanGraphs (minimum of 90 innings pitched). His WAR is 3.2 — ranked 15th among starters — but Strider is the only guy in the top 30 with fewer than 100 innings pitched. Strider is locked in lately and has better stuff at home.
Finally, Houston’s starter Saturday — RHP Cristian Javier — got lit up by the Braves in the 2021 World Series. Javier was 0-1 in the World Series with a 12.00 ERA (3 innings, 4 earned runs) with three home runs allowed. And this was vs. an Atlanta lineup sans superstar slugger Ronald Acuña Jr.
BET the ATLANTA BRAVES (-160) at PointsBet Sportsbook.
- A $160 wager on the Atlanta Braves (-160) returns a $100 profit if they win.